Warming Soup for Cold January Days and Turbulent Times

I remember clearly that after 9/11, all I wanted to cook was comfort food. I could say the same thing this week after our nation’s Capitol was attacked on 1/6. Once again comfort food is what my husband and I craved. During the past few days bowls of spaghetti tossed with a tomato and caper sauce, fried fish sandwiches served with chips, and pizzas ordered from our local pizzeria have brought consolation. Most of all we found our spirits lifted by a warming roasted cabbage and potato soup with smoked kielbasa.

This soup, which calls for inexpensive, easy-to-find ingredients, is also uncomplicated to assemble. Diced potatoes and wedges of cabbage are roasted in the oven to enhance their flavor before they are simmered in Continue reading

Happy 2021

In case you’d like to add even more sparkle to your flutes of champagne on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day, here are two ways to put pizzazz in your bubbly.

You can add some St Germain,  a French liqueur made from elderflowers, to champagne or enhance it with with fresh raspberries smashed with sugar. Either way will turn a simple glass of champagne into something extra special!

Thanks to all of you who have followed by blog during this challenging year. I wish everyone a healthy, safe, and joyous New Year. May 2021 be a return to normalcy when we can give hugs to all, invite friends to our homes, and travel far and wide.  And, may we always be grateful for and share our blessings with others.

 

A Delicious Christmas Dinner for Four…or More

After posting recipes for Camembert Stuffed with Dates, Apricots, and Walnuts and for Spiced Orange Pecans (both perfect for small holiday gatherings) last week on this blog, I’ve decided on the menu for our scaled down Christmas dinner. The pièce de résistance will be sautéed beef tenderloin steaks with a shallot, bacon, and port sauce accompanied by creamy Stilton flans. My spouse is ecstatic since he adores tenderloin steaks and counts blue cheeses as his favorites.

It’s the tantalizing sauce, layered with multiple flavors, that makes the steaks so distinctive. Sweet, caramelized roasted shallots and salty bits of bacon are added to a simple reduction of port and stock to form a quick pan Continue reading

Two Quick and Easy Holiday Appetizers for Small Gatherings

Typically, at this time of year, we’d be entertaining nonstop—hosting an end-of-semester party for my husband’s students, inviting friends and neighbors for some holiday libations, or welcoming guests to a large open house. None of that will take place in 2020 because of the pandemic. Our socializing this season will be primarily through Zoom or Face Time, and we’ll only need appetizers for two! Because many other families, like ours, will be scaling down this year, I’ve chosen two easy yet delicious treats (both featured on my blog in earlier posts) perfect to serve at small gatherings. A wheel of Camembert stuffed with a glorious mélange of fruit and nuts as well as bowls of spiced orange pecans are on my list.

A round of Camembert is halved horizontally, filled with a colorful fruit Continue reading

Three Last Minute Dishes for Thanksgiving

This year for many of us, our Thanksgiving tables will be smaller than in the past. With that thought in mind, I’ve searched my files for easy recipes to add to your menu in 2020.  A delicious Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Sage Cream would make a fine opener while Brussels Sprouts, Bacon, and Apples or Oak Leaf Salad and Apple Salad with Cider Honey Vinaigrette could easily be part of your lineup of  side dishes.

The roasted butternut squash soup takes only about 15 minutes to prep. The squash will need 30 minutes of roasting to intensify its flavor. Once roasted it is simmered along with shallots in stock, and finally pureed. Some warm crème fraîche infused with sage makes a delectable addition.

For Brussels sprouts, Bacon and Apple, three unlikely cohorts–assertive sprouts, salty bacon, and sweet apples–combine to form a colorful sautéed dish bursting with flavor. Start-to-finish time is about 35 minutes.

The Oak Leaf and Apple Salad with Honey Cider Vinaigrette, a perfect late fall salad prepared with tender oak leaf lettuce and tart frisée, is the easiest, for no cooking is involved. Add some dried cranberries for a holiday accent, and count on 35 minutes total to assemble this dish.

May you all stay safe and well. Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

An Old Favorite is New Again

My 18-year old granddaughter, who is taking a gap year from college, texted recently, asking if I could send her recipes for dishes with shrimp and pasta. She is working fulltime, babysitting and tutoring two elementary school kids, and does house and pet sitting on weekends. All of this has suddenly made her very interested in cooking!  Hooray! I pored over my files, and a recipe that caught my eye was Fettuccine with Shrimp and Garlic Butter!  It was published more than three decades ago in my first cookbook, Betty Rosbottom’s Cooking School Cookbook, and remains a favorite of my students. Continue reading

A Delicious Wild Mushroom and Leek Tart from Leftovers

Last week after teaching one of my fall cooking classes, I noticed some interesting leftovers. I found a bag of dried mixed mushrooms as well as fresh brown mushrooms used to make a chicken ragoût. In the fridge there was a box of puff pastry, as well as heavy cream, butter, and eggs all utilized in a dessert tart. Eyeing these ingredients, I came up with an idea for turning them into a new creation, a savory wild mushroom and leek tart. I could taste the scrumptious tart in my mind as I wrote out my grocery list which included only two items- leeks and Gruyère cheese.

The tart shell prepared with purchased puff pastry was easy to roll out and shape in a tart pan. For the filling I sautéed fresh sliced mushrooms with Continue reading

A Warming Chicken and Apple Curry for Cool Autumn Nights

It’s October here in New England, so every day we are seeing  less light and feeling the  temperature dropping into cooler ranges. Our sweaters, warming vests, scarves, and gloves are at the ready in our back hallway, and logs for fires are nearby in the garage  This change of season is certainly reflected in what I am cooking. We’ve been craving warm, comforting food—spicy chilis, hearty soups, Southern-style smothered pork chops, old fashioned pot roasts with braised vegetables– to name a few. One dish, in particular, a fall chicken and apple curry, has become a favorite.

This simple main course was inspired by a recipe I spotted in a French community cookbook, given to me by a Parisian friend. You’ll need only a single large skillet to prepare it plus a saucepan for cooking the rice to accompany it. Cubes of boneless chicken breast are sautéed along with diced Golden Delicious apples and onions, and then everything is simmered in coconut milk scented with curry and fresh ginger. This golden mélange, served atop mounds of rice, is garnished with toasted almonds, chopped cilantro, and sliced green onions.

Count on 25 to 30 minutes to prep the ingredients and several minutes more to sauté them. Then you simmer this mixture, unattended, about 20 minutes. Like me, I hope you’ll welcome fall by trying this special dish!

 

  

 

 

Blue Ribbon Apple Pie for Fall

Quite a few years ago when I lived in Columbus, Ohio, several other food professionals in town, along with me, were asked to judge an apple pie contest. We all took our judicial roles seriously, and tasted and re-tasted an array of pie entries. The scrumptious dessert that follows is based on my recollection of the one that won first place.

I remembered that the crust had been particularly flaky, and that the filling was perfectly balanced with sweet and tart flavors. However, it was the crunchy, streusel-like topping covering the apples that had made the pie so distinctive and had helped it garner the blue ribbon. The following recipe bears a close likeness to the original. The flaky crust is achieved by using shortening along with butter, and the filling works best with Golden Delicious apples scented with cinnamon and lemon. Both brown and white sugars blended with butter, flour, and pecans (my addition for this recipe) are the secret to the golden topping.

I like this quintessential American dessert served slightly warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or dollops of whipped cream, but it’s just as tempting unadorned. It’s best served the day it’s baked, but you can prepare the pie dough a day ahead, and have the ingredients for the topping measured and ready to assemble.  

 

 

One Last Fling with Corn

A few days ago my husband and I ventured outside our home to eat on the patio of a favorite restaurant. It was the first time we had dined out in six months, so we splurged and chose the lobster rolls with house made potato chips and coleslaw as our main course. My spouse ordered fried oysters for his opener, while I picked fried corn on the cob with beurre blanc and crumbled feta. The corn turned out to be my favorite dish of the evening.

We still have bins of corn in our local markets here in Amherst, so I decided to create a simpler version of the dish I enjoyed so much. For the original served at The Blue Heron in Sunderland, Massachusetts, a single ear of fried corn was cut into three equal portions, then set upright atop a pool of lime- Continue reading